Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Permission to put the right label on what you feel

Did you ever have a feeling that was different from what people expected you to feel? There's an interesting motivation that comes from finding the right word for what you are feeling. It's as if the right word gives edges to the feeling. You might still feel it, but you are also able to begin to imagine that you might feel something else too.

This framing only happens when you are congruent with the word you choose. When other people give you other labels, the feeling leaks out around the edges. Because it is not contained, it colours all of your attention, even the part that is feeling out the label and working to understand what does or does not fit.The leak is every bit as messy as it sounds, and it keeps you stuck trying to figure out a feeling instead of free to move past it or through it.

When you are supporting someone else and you can tell they have found the right word, give them a few minutes (or hours or days) to adjust their perceptions around this word. It's not as satisfying as having them leap around shouting "I'm saved!" but it is something special to help someone find the word they need and then just sit with them while they take a good look at what that word is and what space might open up around it.

Think for a moment about the times you have been really stuck. Perhaps you were set free by a really big change outside yourself, but it's likely you got moving again because something changed inside of you. And those changes are almost never big: they are small enough to sit inside and guide our perceptions until the world seems bigger and the problem seems smaller.

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